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Liverpool title defence could unravel, says Paul Merson as he tips Reds to finish fourth

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has had only one addition to his squad this summer
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has had only one addition to his squad this summer
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Modified 16 Sep 2020, 19:36 IST
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Liverpool's defence of the Premier League title could go pear-shaped, with the Reds possibly finishing as low as fourth, according to football pundit Paul Merson.

Liverpool have bought just one player so far this summer, with Grek left-back Kostas Tsimikas arriving from Olympiacos. The Reds bid farewell to Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne over the summer, and that has given them some wriggling room, with respect to their wage bill.

Jurgen Klopp's side began their title defence with an error-strewn 4-3 win over Leeds United at Anfield on Saturday, and it prompted Merson to question the Reds' title credentials. The former Arsenal man was critical of the way Liverpool defended, and lashed out at the lack of transfer activity.

Writing in his Sky Sports column, Merson said, "You look at the goals Liverpool let in against Leeds: wow. I just think they turned up and thought they would wipe the floor with Leeds

"I think they need to buy someone. It would not surprise me if the finished fourth this season, and I thought that before this game. It's the same team, and they have a massive amount of players who have to play every week."

Paul Merson questions Liverpool's squad depth

Paul Merson expressed concern about the number of games the likes of Virgil van Dijk have to play
Paul Merson expressed concern about the number of games the likes of Virgil van Dijk have to play

Merson specifically questioned Liverpool's lack of depth, and how they needed a big number of players to play most games, if they are to mount another season of sustained excellence - the kind which is required to win titles.

"Virgil van Dijk cannot get injured. The full-backs cannot get injured. They have not got anyone to replace the front three if they are injured."
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"I keep saying it. There's a famous fast-food chain that used to sell more chips and burgers than anyone; they still did adverts. You spend to stay at the top," Merson continued.

Merson also said that Liverpool's problems would be compounded by the Manchester City squad, which has the wherewithal to put in top-class performances, even with a couple of key players injured.

"If Man City get injuries, they will just play: 'We'll score more goals than you' anyway.

"What we'll see later in the season is teams like Man City come into the fold massively, because their squad is too big."
"That's why I worry about Liverpool, there's five or six players who must play week in, week out, otherwise the team is weakened immensely. This is the hardest league in the world. You have to be fit, it's the first thing.

"Passing comes well below fitness! You could be the best passer in the world, but if you are not fit, you are not playing a game. After that, it's about pace and passing the ball."

Liverpool next play Chelsea at Stamford Birdge on Sunday, while Manchester City open their Premier League campaign on Monday night, with a game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Published 16 Sep 2020, 19:35 IST
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